If you attended last week’s annual UK&I SAP User Group conference, it’s unlikely you’ll have escaped the event’s main focus. ‘Digital transformation’ was the clear theme, but whilst there was no confusing the headline message, many SAP customers still seem unsure what digital transformation really means to them.
We spoke with many people who are being told that ‘they need to be more digital’, others who are looking for help with a business case and some who remain unconvinced. In fact, 80% of the UK&I SUG members who participated in the conference survey said they were somewhat skeptical about the hype surrounding digital, despite being confident that vendors and partners can help. From those who we spoke to, it was clear they felt digital is no longer an option, but a necessity.
There are few who argue that the vision of the future is compelling, but getting there presents many organisations with a complex set of challenges. There was a huge emphasis therefore on roadmaps, particularly relating to S/4 HANA and the HANA Cloud Platform (HCP). But whilst HANA and Cloud present major opportunities, it seemed that some might be overlooking the smaller things that can be done today with their existing technology to move them in the right direction.
Many of the conference sessions also focused on the subject of moving to S/4 HANA. It’s clear that SAP believes S/4 HANA is fundamental to being agile enough to operate effectively in the digital world. Sven Deneken, SAP did a great job of explaining the S/4 HANA journey in simple terms, in a way that sounded more real for customers. But there’s no doubt that the gap between the current technology landscape versus the desired future state is significant for most organisations. Some have or are keen to start their journeys, but most are struggling to justify the costs. According to the SUG’s Chairman, Philip Adams, customers need support from suppliers to provide practical guidance that helps them build their digital business case.
S/4 HANA was not the only hot topic at the conference. From a data and analytics perspective, SAP Design Studio was attracting a lot of interest and is increasingly viewed as a core component of the BI suite. Continued innovation in 1.6 means it is fast becoming a strategic solution to deliver enterprise-ready analytical applications for desktop and mobile. There was also much discussion around SAP Cloud for Analytics and how it enables customers to embrace the benefits of a Cloud BI platform, whilst embracing ‘Bi-modal BI’ - with SAP Cloud for Analytics complementing the SAP’s classic analytics tools Business Objects and Business Warehouse.
Not surprisingly, the Internet of Things (IoT) was also a key area that many attendees seem to be exploring in much greater depth. IoT scenarios and use cases are really starting to grow as more industries are seeing the potential to open up new markets, exploit new channels and identify ways to enhance their existing products and services.
Despite the significant hurdles to overcome, there was a lot to be encouraged about in terms of the growing appetite for digital innovation across the SAP user community. In his conference keynote, Ray Wang challenged the audience to embrace the undeniable change and to use digital to disrupt, rather than become one of the disrupted. It’s a message that will be driving the thinking of many in the SAP community as we head into 2016.